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Published: 11/14/2000

Icy blast expected to give area a jolt

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Two relatively warm winters and last month's smattering of 70-plus degree days may have spoiled residents of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

But break out the gloves and hot chocolate: Wintry weather is here.

“We've seen above normal winters for the past two years,” said Kim Patti, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa. “In reality, we've been spoiled.”

Temperatures yesterday had dipped to 33 degrees by 11:30 p.m., and the high today is expected to reach only 37 degrees.

It might warm up a bit by Thursday, but the high for that day is only 41 degrees, she said.

A recent storm system that swept through the area dragged in colder air from the north behind it, and that, in turn, could bring in some lake-effect weather from Lake Michigan.

In short: Expect snow.

“There's no accumulation probable, but we might see a trace on grassy surfaces,” Ms. Patti said. Still, the plummeting mercury and white stuff are not unusual for this time of the year, Ms. Patti said. It's just that several unseasonably warm days - 70 degrees or more - threw off the average temperatures for October, a month during which the average high was 69 degrees at the beginning of the month and 56 degrees by the end, Ms. Patti said.

The temperature on Halloween peaked at 63 degrees, and two days later, it surged again to 73 degrees - just five degrees below the all-time high for Nov. 2, which was set in 1987.

“Usually, we have three snows in November,” said Jesse Graham, acting manager of Toledo's street operations. “Last year, the first didn't come until December.”

But oh, what a change a week or so can make.

The chilly change over the last few days was apparent yesterday throughout the region.

Transportation crews for municipalities and school districts were conducting last-minute equipment checks.

“We have made sure all the block heaters are working,” said Joe Dietrich, Napoleon schools' transportation supervisor. “In cold weather, we put one in each bus, plug them in, and they click on at 3 a.m. so the motors are warm and ready to start.”

Ralph Wise, Fostoria's safety-service director, said the city has 3,000 tons of salt stored and ready. “It's not like I want winter to happen, but it's inevitable,” Mr. Wise said.

Meanwhile, snow shovels and snow blowers were being hauled out of the Anderson's General Store in Maumee with increasing frequency, said Judy Smith, in the indoor lawn and garden department.

“I think a lot more people are buying their Christmas lights, too, to get them up before the weather gets really bad,” she said.

Nancy Johnson, an operator who takes messages for Affordable Heating & Air Conditioning & Electrical, said the increase of calls that began in September surged in the past few days with more customers wanting last-minute checks on their furnaces.

“You've got elderly people, people with rheumatoid arthritis, and they can't take the cold,” she said. Maintenance is necessary to prevent that “2 o'clock in the morning emergency call.”

Still, others were just trying to squeeze in a few final hours of warmer-weather fun. In East Toledo, 11-year-old Ryan Zam was in-line skating near his home.

“My mom was like `Why are you doing that? It's cold,'” he said, shrugging and pulling his hands into the sleeves of his Cleveland Browns coat. “But I think it'll snow soon. Then what do you do?”



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